I’ve been taunting you all with this for weeks, now, and I think I’ve come close enough to share it with you – a low(er) fat, low(er) sugar, low(er) carb cheesecake. Yes! I said CHEESECAKE! Rich, creamy cheesecake. And just about as guilt-less as you can get. Seriously.
In case you haven’t been following along, a little back story: Back at the end of March, the hubs (MJ) was diagnosed with Type 2 Diabetes. The asshat doctor we had at that time, handed him a pamphlet from the drug company with a “recommended” diet and a sneer. MJ totally freaked out, and when he took the plate of dinner I served him back to the kitchen to re-measure and re-weigh the portions I gave him one evening, I had enough. I took the pamphlet, tore it into a gazillion pieces and threw it in the trash. “But now what am I going to do?” “You’ll eat what I give you.” I tooled around the American Diabetes Association website, and got some more up-to-date insight. Today, MJ is 45 pounds lighter – mostly due to portion control, more vegetables, lower-fat, higher fiber options, and most importantly – common sense. In fact, I wouldn’t even let him get one of those blood glucose testing meters. An interim fasting blood test showed his sugar levels dropped significantly. He just had another one, and I’m hopeful that he’ll be back within normal parameters and off the medication very shortly.
I’m not saying that the course we took would work for everyone in his situation, but I know my husband. And I firmly believe that working with the foods he enjoys, and all the new choices out there, such as the higher fiber multigrain pastas, cutting portions, and providing something sweet for dessert, is making the process less onerous and more of a lifestyle modification, rather than radical change. Once he started seeing results – smaller clothing sizes and better glucose numbers – MJ began to settle down emotionally, and became more like his own sweet self again.
I know — enough with the yada yada yada! On with the cheesecake!
This recipe is for a 6-inch cheesecake. For a 9 or 10-inch cake, double the ingredients. Be sure to read the notes at the end!
1/4 cup sugar-free cookie crumbs (your choice)
1 pound (2 – 8 oz pkgs) fat-free cream cheese (at room temperature)
1/4 cup Splenda for Baking
1/3 cup liquid egg substitute
1 whole egg (at room temperature)
1/2 tsp. grated lemon rind
1 tsp. vanilla extract
2 Tbsp. fat-free sour cream
2 Tbsp. soy coffee creamer
Pinch of salt
Preheat the oven to 500 degrees (Yes, 500. Bear with me)
For the crust: While the oven is heating, spray a 6-inch springform pan with cooking spray. Put the crumbs in the pan, and shake it around a bit to spread the crumbs all over the bottom and about an inch up the sides of the pan. Then take a flat-bottomed drinking glass, and press the crumbs in evenly. When the oven reaches about 325 degrees, place the pan in the oven for about 5 minutes, then remove and set aside to cool.
For the filling: With an electric mixer, beat the cream cheese until light and fluffy. Add the Splenda and beat thoroughly. Beat the egg and egg substitute together with a fork, and add to the cream cheese in two portions, beating in thoroughly and scraping down the sides well after each addition. Add the remaining ingredients and beat for another minute, until the batter is smooth and well-blended.
Pour the filling into the prepared crust. Smack the pan on the counter several times to remove large air bubbles. They’ll rise to the surface and pop. It’s kind of cool, actually.
Place the pan in the 500 degree oven, on the center rack, for 5 minutes. It should look a little puffy with some light browning – something like this:
Turn the oven temp down to 200 degrees and keep the oven door open until the heat is reduced. Bake for an additional 20 – 30 minutes. The edges should be firm, but the cake should still jiggle.
Leaving the cake in the oven, turn off the oven and keep the door propped open. Let sit for about an hour. Remove the pan to cool on a rack till it comes to room temperature, then refrigerate for a minimum of 2 hours.
Delicious plain, or served with fresh fruit and/or fat-free whipped topping.
As noted before, if you’re making a full-sized 9 or 10 inch cheesecake, just double everything, including the times. No, there’s no water bath. Really.
First little trick: Line the removable bottom of the springform pan with foil, then put the pan back together. This will not only provide leakage insurance, but enable you to remove the finished cheesecake to a nice serving plate later, with a minimum of fuss.
Second little trick: Whenever you have a recipe that calls for lemon juice, save the juiced rinds in a small freezer bag and put in the freezer. Then when you have a recipe – like this – where you need a little bit of grated rind, but no juice, you don’t have to mess up a perfectly good lemon. Have you seen the price of lemons, these days? You can just grab your microplane grater (you do have one, don’t you?) and grate off what you need. The fact that it’s frozen, makes it easier to get just the rind – no pith. Then just throw it back into the freezer.
Okay, about the oven heat. The idea is that the initial high heat cooks the eggs and causes the cheesecake to puff up. This will also cause a circular crack to form around the edge of the cheesecake to vent the steam. When you lower the heat, the cheesecake will sink and the “crack” pretty much disappears, and creating that rich, dense cheesecake texture we all know and love.
Well, this post has gone on far too long, so Next Monday: Variations!